The Croatian capital wasn’t somewhere I ever really considered going. In fact, it was only included on our interrail journey out of need. But that didn’t stop me having the most wonderful 24 hours in Zagreb.
The city itself is quite small, meaning it’s easy to explore. It’s also a pretty cheap city making it perfect for the budget backpacker.
Our 24 hours were focused on the old town, which has more than enough to keep you busy. From the stunning Cathedral and a very quirky museum, Zagreb has a lot to offer. It also has a pretty big coffee culture which I love in a city!
So here’s how we spent our day in Zagreb…
If you want to see how we spent our time in other cities during our interrail trip you can find all the links here.
Since we had such a short time in Zagreb we straight away headed to Ban Jelačić Square for a walking tour.
I know I’ve mentioned it before but I love walking tours! They’re such a great way to get a feel for a city if you only have a short amount of time. Or are a good starting point if you’ve got a few days to explore.
However, there’s no way this girl could do a walking tour on an empty, caffeine free stomach! So the actual first order of the day was to find food along the way.
We spotted the cutest little cafe a couple of minutes from the Square that was perfect for a quick breakfast.
Meet Mia Cafe was exactly what we were looking for, complete with rather adorable pink bicycle planter. I had a pain au chocolat and a coffee while Mark just opted for an orange juice. Altogether it cost us around 40 HRK, which is about £5, so very reasonable.
It was then time to meet up with the walking tour, to see, and find out, more about the city we were in.
Our walking tour was with free spirit tours but followed pretty much the same format as all the other tours we’d already done.
The tour focused on the old town as well as some of the history and day-to-day life of the city.
Our guide first explained that Zagreb was formed from two different settlements on neighboring hills. And then went on to give a brief history of how those two settlements joined to form what is now Zagreb.
We started the tour by heading up towards the defensive halls surrounding the hill that houses the Cathedral. Even if you decide against a tour don’t miss the incredible views from the walls. You can see over the entire city including iconic views of the cathedral and surroundings.
From the defensive walls, we continued on the tour and got to see the Lotrscak Tower, the Cathedral itself, St Mark’s Square and Church, Dolac Market, Bloody Bridge, and Tkalciceva Street. All before ending up back at Ban Jelačić Square.
Did you know that in the old town there still gas street lights that are lit every day by hand by just two men?!
If you do choose to go on a walking tour I would definitely try and make the 11 am one. Because this means your tour will be timed to fit in with the special event that happens every day at 12 noon.
If you’re not on a tour then you have to make sure you’re at Lotrscak Tower by 12 noon. I won’t spoil the surprise and tell you what happens, just that it might not be the best thing if you hate loud noises…
If you’re travelling on a budget, I would also recommend heading back to Dolac Market. Here you can quick up a whole range of fresh food for a snack or to cook later.
After the 2 and a half hour walking tour, we were definitely ready to put our feet up for a bit. We found a pub and stopped for a drink and some food before deciding where to head next.
One of the biggest attractions in Zagreb is perhaps one of the oddest things you’ll have heard of. And that is the famous Museum of Broken Relationships.
It was honestly one of the best and most interesting museums I’ve ever been to! Full of different, somewhat random objects sent in by people who have been through a broken relationship, along with the stories behind the objects. Some stories are hilarious, some are heartbreaking and some feel a little too close to home. This quirky museum is 100% worth a visit and you’ll leave having gone through a whole spectrum of emotion!
The museum is located near St Mark’s Square and entry costs 40 HRK which is about £4.80.
Now you haven’t really been to Zagreb unless you’ve stopped for a drink along Tkalciceva Street. Once a river that flowed between the two original settlements, the street is now lined top to bottom with restaurants, bars, and cafes. It was so nice just to sit with an Aperol and people watch in the sun.
After a few drinks, it was time for food again. And I was desperate to try a Croatian dish while we were in the capital.
At the end of our free tour we were given a leaflet with lots of recommendations so decided to go with something from there.
After careful consideration, we headed to Plac, just underneath Dolac Market for cevapcici. Cevapcici is basically, minced-meat made into little sausages, served in bread and often with a side of chips. But don’t be fooled by its simplicity. The dish is hearty and packed full of flavour.
Plac itself is a small restaurant specialising in cevapcici and burgers. We both opted for a small serving (6 pieces) along with a side of fries which cost a budget friendly 44 HRK (about £5.25).
Our evening was then spent making friends at the hostel bar.
And just like that it was time to leave Zagreb. Leaving so soon felt almost like a crime! I do think 24 hours is enough to get a real feel of the city, I just always want longer than I have in a place!
Bonus few hours!
We actually managed to visit Zagreb twice during the trip! Although the second time was only for a few hours while waiting for a connecting train from Ljubljana to Split.
Not wanting to waste the extra time we had to explore, and in need of some lunch, we went off to hunt out a place to eat.
About 10 minutes from the station we found Karaka Pirat. A pirate themed Mexican restaurant in the capital of Croatia. You really couldn’t make this up!
Despite the slightly odd surroundings, it was some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had! And the portion size was more than enough to fill you up for the day. I opted for the enchiladas and Mark the burrito which costs us about 60 HRK (£7.20) each.
After food, we wandered back to the train station going past some very pretty parks.
We still had some time before our train so we sat with a coffee in a cafe outside the station and just watched the world go by.
Zagreb is a lovely little city with such a relaxed atmosphere. I would 100% recommend a visit to anyone heading to Croatia or even just as a weekend away on its own. In my opinion, it’s definitely underrated among travellers, and doesn’t deserve to be overlooked as much as it is.
Our 24 hours in Zagreb made me so excited to see more of Croatia!
All my love,